The Value of Virginity, Prevalence of Premarital Sex, and Vulnerability to Reproductive Health Risks among Young People in Wolaita Sodo town
This research investigates the value of virginity, prevalence of premarital sexual practices, and vulnerability to reproductive health risks among the youth in Wolaita Sodo town. Youth learning both in the primary schools (382) and higher education institution (384) were selected using probability proportionate to size sampling technique. Institutional-based descriptive and explanatory research designs were used in the study. Using a survey method, quantitative data were collected by structured questionnaire. Both descriptive and inferential statistical methods were used to analyze and present data. Young people in Wolaita Sodo town were found to have a high value to virginity. It is also found that 18.2% of primary school students reported that they engaged in premarital sexual practice which is lower than the rate found among the University students (33.2%). Out of the respondents who reported to have had premarital sex, 38% of primary school students and 59.8% of University students disclosed that they have sexual relationships only with a single partner whereas 20% of primary school students and 19.5% of University students reported that they have five and above life-time sex partners. In addition, primary school students have been found to be better in terms of engaging in less risky premarital sexual practices compared to their University students counterparts (59.8% to 62% in regular condom use; 56% to 55.2% in undertaking HIV testing before engaging in sexual practices, respectively). While being female (r=.181, P<.01), never married (r=.174, P<0.01), and coming from an urban area (r=187, P<0.01) are positively associated to value of virginity, being female is negatively associated to premarital sexual experience (r=-.429, P<0.01). With relatively low level of premarital sexual practices, regular condom use, and better experience of undergoing voluntary HIV testing before sexual intercourse, youth in Wolaita Sodo town are less vulnerable to reproductive health risks. But, the finding regarding the presence of more than one life-time sexual partners among the respondents may enhance their vulnerability to various reproductive health risks.
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